Energy efficiency entails upfront costs but offers long-term benefits.
By Bedrana Kaletovic for Southeast European Times in Tuzla -- 17/05/12
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has a September deadline to approve legislation that would implement energy-efficiency standards in line with the EU, or risk losing Union funds and thousands of potential jobs.
The standards primarily involve so-called "green" construction -- buildings with energy-efficient windows, lighting and heating systems.
"Conventional energy can no longer be the base of BiH's economy and industry," Mirza Kushljugic, professor of electro-energy systems at Tuzla University, told SETimes.
Energy-related costs in BiH constitute 20% of its GDP, compared to the 5% of GDP in EU member states, Kushljugic said, adding that energy reform should become an immediate state priority.
"That means undertaking specific actions to create a favourable set of laws which will reconstruct the energy as well as the mining sectors, and build energy structures," he said.
The requirement will raise the price of new buildings by up to 10%, but will have long-term benefits for owners.
"Construction according to energy efficiency standards yields four times less expensive heating than using the city central heating and [is] five times better than heating by heating oil," Damir Maljevic, director of the Banja Luka-based MKD Sinergija Plus, told SETimes.
In BiH, an enormous amount of energy is consumed because buildings’ roofs and walls are not well insulated.
Applying energy-efficiency standards on only a fifth of the housing units in BiH for ten years will create an estimated 7,000 jobs in construction annually.
Twice as many can obtain "green jobs" if they are indirectly involved in the production and implementation of energy-efficient equipment and materials.
Yet, lack of co-ordination across all levels of government -- state, entity and cantonal -- is an obstacle to effectively implementing energy-efficiency reforms.
Different ministries are responsible for energy and environment: on the state level, it is the ministry of foreign trade and economic relations; in the Federation of BiH, it is the ministry of energy, mining and industry.
The international community has lent a helping hand to give the process a boost. USAID, UNDP and the German GTZ invested 2.15m euros in an energy efficiency project whose goal is to achieve 20% to 30% in energy-related savings and net BiH an estimated 420m euros.
"The focus is on improving energy efficiency of residential buildings and houses: upgrading the structures with vacuum windows, new heating systems. An education and awareness campaign about energy spending will quickly give results," project leader Zoran Morvaja told SETimes.
Energy efficiency would make BiH more competitive with other nations in the region. Croatia has prepared a strategic plan for the implementation of EU-related energy laws by 2016.
Serbia, which recently became an EU candidate, is energy inefficient. It spends 50% more money on public lighting than EU countries and 15% of its GDP on energy costs.
"We need to recognise our mistakes and not repeat them. Our products do not compete in the EU market because they must include the [expensive] prices of needed energy," Ranko Bozovic, director of the Belgrade EnPlus design company, told SETimes.